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Gunners outshine the Golden Boys

Written By: Robert Halter

Watford faced their first big test at Vicarage Road during 2015 with the visit of Arsenal mid October as the Golden Boys marked their return to the top flight by facing the Gunners, with their last meeting dating back to Boxing Day 2006. In the third minute from an Aaron Ramsey cross and a glancing header by Theo Walcott, the ball was smothered by the Hornets keeper, Heurelho Gomes. On nine minutes, Mesut Ozil picked out Alexis Sanchez, whose soaring strike forced Gomes to spring into action, to turn the ball away. But the Golden Boys responded a minute later, after Francis Coquelin lost the ball out to the Hornets club captain, Troy Deeney, whose low drive was kept out from a save by Petr Cech, as he dived to his right to palm the ball away. Then on eighteen minutes, Etienne Capoue set Deeney free on the left but a timely intervention from Laurent Koscielny, put the ball behind with Odion Ighalo lurking in the area. But on twenty eight minutes, the Gunners edged closer, with a floating ball to the far post by Sanchez, but Ramsey was unable to keep his strike down in front of the target, as he hooked the ball over. With just under half an hour played, Ikechi Anya put a ball through to Ighalo, who fell while trying to get his shot away after a push on his back from Nacho Monreal. On thirty six minutes, a saving clearance by Allan Nyom, carved away a cross by Hector Bellerin, to prevent the ball going to Monreal, in a goal scoring position and then within a minute, Koscielny sliced wide an Ozil corner. But Watford pressed again on thirty nine minutes, as Deeney’s ball in was cut out by Cech, with Ighalo looking on with intent. In the forty first minute, a looping pass by Capoue from his own half, required Cech to pounce out of his area, as he had to chest the ball clear, to stop Deeney in his tracks, while Gunners club captain, Per Mertesacker, stood in his way. In the last action of the first half, from an incisive pass by Ozil, the ball was hacked over by Ramsey. On fifty three minutes, Sanchez cleared the way for Ozil but Sebastian Prodl blocked his path to slice the ball away from the danger zone. But Arsenal got the breakthrough on sixty one minutes, as Santi Cazorla opened the gap for Ozil, who was tripped in the box by Nathan Ake, but the Gunners gained the advantage as Sanchez, chipped the ball over Gomes, into the top left corner. After going ahead, Olivier Giroud replaced Theo Walcott and he soon added his name to the score sheet in the sixty seventh minute, as Sanchez put the ball out to Ramsey, whose shot deflected off Prodl, only for Ozil to send a low cross over to Giroud, who rammed the ball high into the roof of the net. As the Hornets trailed 2-0, they took off Nyom for Steven Berghuis. Then on seventy three minutes, Arsenal put the game to bed as Bellerin breezed past Ake, to free the space for Ramsey, whose strike deflected off Anya, as the ball went past a stranded Gomes. It was too late to make a difference as Victor Ibarbo was brought on for Almen Abdi. The Gunners later made a double change of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Sanchez and Ozil with Mikel Arteta before Watford switched Anya with Juan Carlos Paredes. On eighty two minutes from a Cazorla corner, a strong header by Giroud had to be palmed over by Gomes to prevent a fourth Gunners goal. In stoppage time, Giroud sent an effort into the night time sky from an Oxlade-Chamberlain delivery but Arsenal remained in striking distance of the top in second place, just two points behind the Premier League leaders, Manchester City.